How to talk about sex in the Philippines, AKA Deus Sex Machina 5

In this country, it’s still difficult, even awkward, to talk about sex. Despite rising cases of HIV infection and teen pregnancy, there is still staunch opposition to sexuality education. So how do you talk about sex?

Well, you can go to Deus Sex Machina, where really bad erotica is read out loud for laughs.

The very first show was staged in UNO Morato in October 2014. The latest installment of this hours-long marathon of sex jokes wrapped up on July 22 at Route 196 on Katipunan.

So what kind of sex talk can you get at DSM?

The writers and performers of DSM 5. Photo by Garrick Bercero – See more at GMA News Online.

Love and relationships

For most people, it’s hard to separate sex from love and relationships. Many books and films have been written around a protagonist in search of the perfect mate or the pursuit of a love interest. DSM takes those clichés and adds some awkward sexual tension.

The show started with host Kenneth Keng welcoming the crowd, only to be interrupted by performer Dustin Celestino. After requesting from the audience a volunteer, a hat, a hoodie, and glasses, Celestino announced, “Now, I’m going to use my organ!” With a flourish, he pulled the curtain off a mysterious device on the stage—an electronic keyboard! What followed was a charming, slightly creepy and totally hilarious song, where Celestino sang that he wasn’t a stalker, just a secret admirer.

And then there was the manic pixie dream girl. “What?,” written by Aya Tantiangco and Denice De Guzman, explored the concept of the MPDG—well, two of them—and the romantic hero who just wants to meet someone different. Read by Marco Sumayao, with Tantiangco and Bles Neri as the MPDGs, what followed was a confusion of physical attraction and emotional connection. Think 500 Days of Summer, but way more graphic.

One of the night’s winners was “Rodrigid Dodirty and His Leila Dilemma,” written and performed by Levi Tan Ong and Pepe Bawagan. The mayor of Hipon City had murdered entire villages of criminals, and decided to run for president. Running on a platform of “no crime,” he tried to find a running mate. But his thoughts wandered to his lost love, “Instead of being Rodrigid, I was Rodfrigid.” He regretted all the things he did not do, while fantasizing about all the things he wanted to do. “Oh how I want to examine her in great detail!” It would have made quite a romantic piece, with statements like “I love her so much, more than no crime!” Alas, the use of all sorts of legal terms as euphemisms was more than the audience could bear. “Oh, how I’d love to put a gag order in her mouth. I’ll use legally-binding rope all around her body. Maybe I’ll even blindfold her, to show her what it’s like to be Justice.” The performers could barely be heard over the claps, shrieks and groans of the captive crowd, strong evidence of Bawagan’s excellent portrayal of the misguided politician.

Watch it:

Sometimes you really just need to try things out. This is what happened in Sumayao’s “Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Who Was in My Mouth,” read by Earle Figuracion, Dante Gagelonia, Keng and Sumayao. The famous detective needs to determine the side effects of a mysterious drug. Watson, Lestrade and Mycroft are invited to participate in the experiment. But things take a nude turn, and so they must be subjected to Holmes’ unusual investigations to solve the real mystery. Props to all four performers for their excellent accents!

Glerren Bangalan’s “A Quick and Dirty Guide to Cocks” is quite literally that. A girl walks into a sex shop and browses the merchandise. When the sales girl asks what she needs, she finds the customer’s lack of knowledge disturbing. Using various foods as props, she explains the vast variety of male sexual organs available. You’re never going to look at a burrito the same way again.

In “Parang Ano Lang,” read by Isabelle Martinez and JR Santos, you find out what happens when clueless rich kids have sex for the first time. The piece tells the story from both sides, and makes you think that maybe men and women really are from different planets: though they say the same thing, they often mean very different things. This is probably a good piece to perform at high school sexuality education classes.

You can’t talk about sex without thinking about sexual fantasies, and DSM5 delivered in spades! First there was Mark Belardo and Anton Sison’s “Bound 2 Myself,” read by the authors and Timothy James Dimacali. A thoughtful piece exploring the self, existentialism, narcissism and pop music, it centered on a profound figure in pop culture: Kanye West. In the far future, advances in cryogenics and cloning had resulted in Kanye’s ultimate dream: a clone of himself. Clone-ye was perfect in every way, so perfect that Kanye couldn’t resist his own charms. The piece showed what happens when you really, really love yourself—literally. Belardo, playing both Kanye and Clone-ye, channeled the artist so well that when he exclaimed, “I’ma let you finish,” the audience erupted in cheers.

But why stop at fantasies with versions of yourself? Keng’s “’Til All Are One,” read by the author with Figuracion, explores tensions (yes, sexual tensions) between your favorite childhood Transformers, Megatron and Optimus Prime. This performance gives new meaning to the term “allspark,” and makes clever use of sound effects from the animated franchise. Just as the children of the eighties in the audience protested the desecration of an institution, you may never see Autobots and Decepticons the same way again.

De Vera and Cruz in Magnificat
De Vera and Cruz in Magnificat. Photo by Garrick Bercero.

And finally, the most bizarre and blasphemous of them all was “Magnificat”: think Catholic + anime school girls. And if you studied in any Catholic school, then you would know how horrendously appropriate the prayer’s words are for a piece like this. Read by Figuracion and Sumayao with Karen Mae De Vera and Maronne Cruz, it was a delicious nightmare of mahou shoujo high-pitched screaming (De Vera—who looks and sounds the part), a terrifying but cartoonish villain (Cruz), and far too many kinds of inappropriate jokes to count. It was a fitting end to DSM’s fifth show.

Of course, you had to be there. Every show features all-new content, so you should catch the Deus Sex Machina anniversary show, taking place at Sev’s Café on October 17, 2015. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for announcements.

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